Gray Day, Greenhouse

These photos were taken at the University of Washington Greenhouse, a facility primarily used for research. A local photography club I belong to made an arrangement with the manager, and we had a few hours amidst the collections on Sunday. The actual research areas were off limits.

The orchid on the top is Epidendrum nocturnum. The bottom orchid is a Bulbophyllum orchid; I don’t know which one. And the third photo is Spanish moss, Tillandsia usneoides, an epiphytic plant that anyone who’s spent time in America’s southeast knows well. I intentionally moved the camera on a long shutter speed for the second shot.

It was good to let gray skies disappear and lose myself in the tropics…a poor person’s vacation.


I can’t resist adding a few more – the greenhouse door from the inside;

a water lily (Nymphaea caerulea);

intertwined tropical leaves;

one of many hungry Nepenthes, a carnivorous plant fed with leftover caterpillars from research projects;

a posy of candy-colored Passionflowers floated in a bowl of water (like what my grandmother used to do with her rhodos!);

and a large tropical leaf shot from underneath (yes, the black dot is a bug). They maintain a very delicate balance in the greenhouse. Hopefully there are not so many pests that plants are destroyed, but not so few that bugs are absent. Natural pest control, not the sterile conditions that heavy use of chemical pest deterrents would create, is the goal.


The Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge topic is “Forward”.

You don’t have to be

to know that forward motion can be

To get going,  you may need to be very,

You may face unexpected roadblocks.

Overcoming them could require a leap of faith,

And concerted effort,

Not to mention perfectly carefully calibrated speed.

Your “progress” may come at a cost,

And some days, you may need to shine a light on those cobwebs to make any progress at all,

But the best thing is when someone has your back – then you can move forward with ease.

WE’VE  GOT YOUR BACK, an outreach campaign created in 2009 by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) and Saatchi & Saatchi, supports veterans by encouraging them to communicate with other veterans, who have their back and can help them move forward.


This post is in honor of my son, a Marine deployed once each to Iraq and  Afghanistan, and home since July 3, 2011. I hope he knows I’ve got his back.  And in honor of this little boy from Helmand Province, whose photo was taken by my son. I hope he can move forward with his life into some kind of peace, whatever it might look like.



More Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge entries can be found here.

Photographs taken in (from top) Edison, WA, Seattle, WA (boats), Mount Rainier, WA, Chua Dia Tang Monastery, Lynnwood, WA,  Snoqualmie National Forest, WA, on the Seattle-Bremerton Ferry, WA, New York City, NY, St. Edwards Park, Kirkland, WA, the Plaza Hotel Fountain, New York City, NY, and somewhere in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

Local Color, Quietly Evolving

“When you paint Spring, do not paint willows, plums, peaches, or apricots, but just paint Spring. To paint willows, plums, peaches, or apricots is to paint willows, plums, peaches, or apricots – it is not yet painting Spring.”

Dogen, Plum Blossoms; Baika.

Dogen, Moon in a Dewdrop, Writings of Zen Master Dogen. Edited by Kazuaki Tanashi. San Francisco: North Point Press, 1985.

Rosy pink buds on a Red Huckleberry bush (Vaccinium parvifolium) grace its smooth green twigs.

In the forest, Sword fern (Polystichum munitum), Salal (Gaultheria shallon) and moss, though evergreen, are looking more verdant these days.

The bark of a noble old Western Red Cedar glows with color.

Under a sunlit Fir and Hemlock canopy, a fern lined mountain stream tumbles quickly over mossy rocks.

Away from the forest, a slough behind the tiny town of Edison reflects a promising cerulean sky.

In town, blue sky bounces off a window as green grass pushes through last year’s dry stalks.

On a high spot in a field, an old Big Leaf Maple festooned with mosses and Licorice fern (Polypodium glycyrrhiza), shines greener each day.

Delicate lichens adorning the branches of smaller trees reach toward increasing light.

Along Puget Sound the rocks have their own colors.

And as the sun sets beyond Samish Island, the clouds seem a little pinker as the waves softly roll in.


I enjoy sharing images. But please take Dogen’s advice and feel-see-smell-hear

this subtle, in-between season for yourself, before it passes.

Information about Dogen, a thirteenth century Japanese Zen teacher, can be found here.

The photographs were taken within the last week or so at these locations near Seattle, Washington: on Samish Island, in the Snoqualmie Wildlife Area in Carnation, in Edison, and at Wallace Falls State Park.

The Edison photos were taken with a phone (Android); the others with a Sony Nex 3.


The Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge this week is “Kiss”.

Bark and Blossom:  Rough Meets Fragile

                         Pursed Lips: Ready


More renditions of the week’s topic are here.


An abstract evocation of warmth, from my hand/heart to yours:

This curled leaf from a Magnolia tree was a meal for a happy beetle or caterpillar, leaving its structure – the veins – for us to admire and ponder. Curled up inside a red lacquered cabinet, it caught stray glimmers of morning sunlight in January.

I found the leaf on the ground at the University of Washington Arboretum in Seattle. Their website says, “Magnolias have a long history. Fossil remains indicate that magnolias are among the most ancient angiosperms (flowering plants) and have changed very little in 100 million years.”

“Magnolias are named in honor of botanist Pierre Magnol, director of the Montpellier Botanic Gardens, the oldest university garden in France. Magnol’s major contribution to horticulture was developing the concept of plant families.”

Strangely enough, I found this leaf (and hundreds more like it) under a Magnolia tree in full bloom in mid April. Lush, graceful flowers adorned the tree above my head but the ground below was blanketed with last year’s leaves, slowly returning to the earth while mingling with freshly fallen petals.

Here are photographs of several magnolias in the UW collection, and fallen petals underneath last year’s skeletonized leaf.

I’ve strayed from the original idea of a simple abstract image for Valentine’s Day, but isn’t Valentine’s Day a bit of a conundrum? A day to celebrate warm feelings of love occurs in a season of cold. So here I’ve set out a few images to reinforce the warmth without forgetting the rest of the story.

From The Daily Post today comes a wonderful potpourri of hearts and the like:

HOME – Weekly Photo Challenge

I’m thinking hard about this one. Having lived in about 24 different “homes” over the years, I never had a fixed abode, that abiding reference point that a place one has lived in for decades provides. My parents moved five times during their marriage, and my grandparents about the same, so no single physical location evokes home for me.  I do feel “home” often enough, but the place I’m in when I’m feeling that way might be my current residence, or it could belong to someone else.

Perhaps I feel most at home when I leave the building where I live and lose myself somewhere outdoors. The surroundings may be grand or they may be plain, but when I’m outside, absorbed in what I see and hear and smell and feel, the separate sense of myself as  “I” can disappear. And that’s Home.

Leaving the building called “home” to find Home outdoors, at an early age.

A rural intersection in North Carolina – at that moment it felt like home to me.

Staten Island’s industrial shoreline – chain link fence, railroad tracks, electrical wires, cranes…I was home free when I took this picture, inspired by the possibilities of color and patterns and lost into the rawness of the moment.

A road somewhere in New York curves out of view…follow it, and maybe I’ll be Home.

Other notions of home can be found here:

Hurry, Spring!

I can’t wait!  But I must be content with these dreams from springs past for now.

Unidentified shoots at Snug Harbor Botanical Garden, Staten Island, NY, NY. Taken in early April.

Pink fawn lily (Erythronium revolutum) a sweet native perennial, growing at Kruckeberg Botanical Garden, Seattle, WA. Taken in late April.

Hellebores (probably Helleborus x hybridus ‘Walberton’s Rosemary‘), also called the Lenten Rose, at the University of Washington Botanic Garden, Seattle. Taken in mid March.

Apple tree blossoms from Chinook Bend Natural Area in Carnation, WA. Taken in late March.

Blossoms on a Magnolia tree cast their shadows in the Chinese Scholar’s Garden at Snug Harbor, Staten Island, NY. Taken in early April.

Unidentified flowering trees at the UW Botanic Garden, Seattle, WA. Taken in mid March.

Tulips, fresh from Pike Place Market, Seattle, WA. Taken in late April.

Finally, jasmine (Jasminum polyanthum), taken right here at home, just the other day – inside. It’s lovely, but I’m eager for those outdoor shoots and sprigs and blossoms and blooms to take my breath away, as they have every year since I could toddle around the yard.

One of my very earliest memories is of tulip shoots bursting out of the cold earth in rural Michigan, where I lived until I was five. Later, growing up in equally cool Syracuse, NY, spring also meant lilacs; old lavender, white and deep purple lilac trees lined the driveway behind the house.  A gift.  Much later when I lived in Manhattan, I missed the earthier delights of spring, so I made a point of buying myself a big bunch of lilacs every May. Inhale deeply!  When I had my own house north of the city, every inch of ground was closely examined as spring wrought its seductive changes.  I’ve been living in apartments for years now and I miss having a garden, but I am as devoted a disciple of spring as I ever was.


Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle

The grass is always green now at this former petroleum transfer facility, the views are always interesting, and the varied sculpture collection can be counted on to stimulate the imagination.


Richard Serra


On the bridge over the railroad tracks a glass walled walkway transforms the landscape, both above and below.


Teresita Fernandez


In the distance is Seattle’s skyline exclamation, the Space Needle. A huge Calder dominates the zigzag path through the park.


Alexander Calder


It’s free, so coming here to walk your dog makes sense, and once the clouds blow over, the Olympic Mountains will grace the view. Native trees and plants were used extensively in landscaping the nine acre, low maintenance, no pesticide park. Rolling in the grass is another good idea, but if weather threatens you can duck inside.


Ellsworth Kelly


A shop, reading materials, snacks, restrooms, and more great views are available at the Paccar Pavilion.

The Serra is my favorite.

Unique AND Universal: Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s Daily Post Weekly Photo challenge is to express the concept, “Unique”.   I was struck by the thought that many of the images below, of people engaged in what must have felt like unique situations, at the same time express universal themes: play and self-expression, love, work, journeys, death.

A toddler throws pebbles into a lake, fascinated by each splash and  ripple, his own creation. Standing on tiptoes to kiss a statue, a young woman expresses the unique possibilities of love.  A man belts out tunes on a  piano, singing his own song, for love and money.

In pouring rain on a warm summer evening another man’s handstand expresses the sheer joy in shared experience.  A neighborhood eccentric leans across his porch to tell you a personal, intricate story about his house.  What unique stories the contents of a Marine’s rucksack, fresh from an Afghanistan deployment, must hold. And finally, graves in a rural cemetery bear flower and pottery offerings – visitors’  unique, yet universal expressions of honor and commitment.




















More images expressing the idea of “unique” are here:

Blowing, Caught, Wafting, Swirling: Ever Present, Never Twice the Same







Apologies to Robert Irwin, an artist whose granite marker, inscribed with the phrase,




was part of an installation on the grounds of Wave Hill, a New York City public garden where I worked in 1987.